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Meet the Grandfather of Medical Marijuana as We Know it

Meet the Grandfather of Medical Marijuana as We Know it

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 01/13/2011 in Medical Marijuana

Fifteen states have legalized medical marijuana on a state level. But if it weren’t for a man named Robert Randall, the lid may have been shut forever on the medical use of marijuana back in 1970. Randall was the first person in US history to obtain legal, medical access to marijuana and his struggles launched the modern medical marijuana movement in the US.

Just 6 years after the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug (which means that the drug has a high potential for abuse; has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision), Randall sued the federal government for arresting him for using cannabis to treat his glaucoma.

The judge ruled Randall needed cannabis for medical purposes and required the Food and Drug Administration set up a program to grow cannabis on a farm at the University of Mississippi and to distribute 300 cannabis cigarettes a month to Randall.

The federal government attempted to cut off Randall’s supply in 1978, but he sued to be able to continue to use marijuana for his glaucoma—and won again. His victory compelled the federal government to establish a special the Investigational New Drug (IND) compassionate access research program to allow patients to receive up to nine pounds of cannabis from the government each year.

In 1992, George H. W. Bush discontinued the IND program after Randall tried to make AIDS patients eligible for the program. As of 2010, five surviving patients still receive medical cannabis from the federal government, paid for by federal tax dollars.

In 1996, patients and advocates turned to the state level for access. California was the first state to remove state-level penalties for the use of medical marijuana and established guidelines on how patients can qualify for cannabis. Since then, similar initiatives have been passed in fourteen other states and in Washington, D.C. Every legislative session, more bills are introduced at the state level to legalize the medical use of marijuana in hopes that one day, Randall’s efforts will finally result in medical marijuana being legal across the country.

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